Health & Wellness

The Top 7 Foods to Eat for Leaky Gut

A few months ago, we discussed how to know if you have leaky gut syndrome. And I received many questions about the best foods to eat for leaky gut.

In fact, the response was so great, that I wanted to make sure all of your questions are fully answered. After all, overhauling your diet is the most important thing you can do to improve your leaky gut.

So, let’s spend a few moments recapping what leaky gut is and how you determine if you have it. Then, we’ll dive straight in and take a more detailed look at the best foods to eat for leaky gut!

 

Do You Have a Leaky Gut?

Before you can discuss with your physician whether or not you have a leaky gut, you must first understand what leaky gut syndrome is. Here’s a quick recap.

Within your digestive system, you have an intestinal, or gut, lining that controls what material enters your bloodstream. It also helps to prevent the loss of water and electrolytes your body needs to function.

When this lining is working properly, nutrients and some water are allowed to seep through small gaps and enter into your bloodstream and reach your organs.

But a problem arises when your intestinal lining becomes inflamed. This inflammation creates wider junctions in the lining, which allows harmful substances to permeate through.

These substances are made of everything from toxins to bacteria to even partially digested food! This condition is referred to as leaky gut syndrome (also known as poor intestinal permeability)—because substances are literally leaking out of your gut and into your body.

Here’s the thing to keep in mind: When harmful materials seep into your body, it can cause chronic inflammation not only throughout your digestive tract but also throughout your entire body.

So, how do you know if you have leaky gut syndrome? Well, the key lies in the name: Syndrome is simply a concise way to say “collection of symptoms,” meaning you have to look at the symptoms and discuss them with your doctor to get the official diagnosis.

Top Leaky Gut Symptoms to Look For

Here are the most common symptoms of leaky gut syndrome:

  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Skin problems
  • Joint pain and/or headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble with memory and/or concentration
  • Seasonal allergy symptoms
  • Hormone irregularities

As we’ve discussed before, these symptoms are pretty common. They’re so common, in fact, that surveys have shown that 74 percent of Americans are unknowingly living with symptoms of leaky gut syndrome.

Even more shocking? They’ve reported living with these symptoms for more than six months! [1]

The good news is that you don’t have to live with these uncomfortable symptoms. By making some dietary changes, you can turn your health around and feel better than you have in ages.

7 foods to eat for leaky gut

Okay, so I know you’re ready to dive into your most-asked question: What are the best foods to eat for leaky gut?

But in order to answer that question, we have to look at what foods to avoid for a leaky gut. You see, you have to replace gut-harming foods with gut-friendly foods.

Here’s the bottom line: The single best thing you can do heal a leaky gut? Replace gluten, sugar, and dairy with probiotic-rich, anti-inflammatory foods. [2]

So, let’s take a closer look at what some of these preferred foods are. Here are the top seven foods to eat for leaky gut.

 

Foods to eat for leaky gut - Dr. Pingel

 

1. Fermented foods

When it comes to the best foods to eat for leaky gut, fermented foods definitely top the list! First, fermented foods are rich in probiotics. As a result, they contain beneficial bacteria known to support a healthy gut microbiome and digestive health.

Studies have shown that consuming fermented food-based probiotics significantly improved intestinal permeability and barrier function. [3]

They’ve also been shown to aid digestive function and even fight constipation by increasing stool frequency and reducing intestinal transit time. [4]

Some of the best fermented foods to eat for leaky gut include kimchi, miso, sauerkraut, and tempeh. Click here to learn more about each of these foods.

2. Kale

Thanks to its inflammation-fighting powers, one of the bests foods to eat for leaky gut is kale.

Amazingly, scientists discovered in a 2021 study that eating kale reduced the inflammation caused by the high-fat diet in animals. Eating kale was found to help modulate gut bacteria as well, which is incredibly important for healing leaky gut. [5]

Meanwhile, other studies have shown that kale contains an antioxidant called sulphorophane, which also contains anti-inflammatory properties.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that kale contains 32 phenolic compounds (compounds that act as antioxidants to reduce inflammation). [6]

For more information on the benefits of eating kale and a few tips on different ways to incorporate it into your diet, click here.

3. Garlic

Garlic lovers rejoice: This much-loved vegetable is actually one of the top foods to eat for leaky gut! (Yep, it’s a vegetable, even though many of us think of it as a spice.)

So, what makes garlic so beneficial for leaky gut? Well, animal studies have shown that supplementing with whole garlic for 12 weeks reduced the gut-harming effects of a high-fat diet. Moreover, it actually increased the diversity of the gut microbiome! [7]

This is important because a 2017 human-based study revealed that stress actually causes a negative change in the composition of intestinal bacteria, which, in turn, increases intestinal permeability by up to 62 percent and also increased inflammation! [8]

Additionally, many other studies have confirmed the positive impact of garlic consumption on the gut microbiome and overall small intestine health. [9, 10]

Given its benefit to the microbiome and, therefore, leaky gut, consider adding garlic to many of your dishes. Its versatility should make it an easy addition to most meals that will appeal to your whole family.

4. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are another one of the best foods for leaky gut because they’re a great source of soluble fiber, which supports a healthy gut.

In fact, a 2018  study revealed that purple sweet potatoes actually act as a prebiotic by promoting the growth and development of healthy gut bacteria, which we know is linked to a lower likelihood of developing leaky gut syndrome. [11]

Additionally, a 2020 study showed that the dietary fiber in sweet potatoes significantly increased the amount of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus (good bacteria) in the microbiome. These bacteria are known to improve digestion as well as absorption in the gastrointestinal tract. [12]

5. Walnuts

One of my favorite benefits of walnuts is their ability support gut health—making them another one of the best foods for leaky gut!

So how do walnuts support gut health? According to a 2018 study, eating walnuts is linked in an increase in beneficial bacteria within the gut. [13]

When the researchers studied the effects of consuming walnuts on 194 healthy adults, they discovered that daily consumption 43 grams of walnuts for eight weeks significantly enhanced probiotic– and butyric acid-producing bacteria in their gut microbiome.

If you’re looking for a few ways to include more walnuts in your diet, consider adding a handful to your salads, baked sweet potatoes, or even use them as a base in sauces. The possibilities are truly endless.

6. Irish moss

Irish moss is a nutrient-rich, thick seaweed that grows on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s been harvested for years due to its nutritional profile and has been found to offer some incredible health benefits.

Not only does Irish moss contain a significant amount of fiber, but it’s also been shown to have prebioitic effects in animal studies, making it one of the best foods for leaky gut.

According to an animal study published in 2015, consuming Irish moss provided a 4.9-times increase in beneficial gut bacteria. Additionally, the amount of bad gut bacteria (Clostridium septicum and Streptococcus pneumonia) in their decreased. [14]

The scientists also noted overall improvements in their gut health and immunity.

As we’ve thoroughly reviewed, supporting your microbiome health has a direct link to improving leaky gut symptoms. To learn more about how to consume Irish moss, check out my article on this superfood.

7. Avocado

Finally, we get to discuss one of my absolute favorites and the last item in the list of best foods for leaky gut: avocado!

Thanks to its high fiber content, eating avocado supports your digestion. A whole avocado contains about 10 grams of fiber, which is almost half your daily fiber content!

This fiber includes both soluble and insoluble forms, which are responsible for preventing constipation and gas buildup.

While soluble fiber supports both digestion and blood sugar, insoluble fiber helps to soften stool and prevent it from being too bulky. So, if you find that you’re prone to constipation, it may help to regularly include avocados in your diet.

Moreover, according to a 2019 study, eating avocados positively affected digestive physiology along with the composition and metabolic functions of intestinal bacteria! [15]

 

Key Takeaways

  • When your intestinal lining becomes inflamed, it creates wider junctions in the lining, which allows harmful substances to permeate through. This condition is referred to as leaky gut syndrome.
  • These substances are made of everything from toxins to bacteria to even partially digested food!
  • When harmful materials seep into your body, it can cause chronic inflammation not only throughout your digestive tract but also throughout your entire body.
  • Some of the top symptoms of leaky gut syndrome include: stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, skin problems, joint pain and/or headaches, fatigue, and more.
  • Some of the best foods for leaky gut include: fermented foods, kale, garlic, sweet potatoes, walnuts, Irish moss, and avocado.

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